Dr Willie Ungerer passed away on 28 December 2012 while on holiday in Mozambique with his family. Dr Willem Frederik Ungerer was born on 29 April 1960 in Pretoria. He grew up in Pretoria and qualified as a veterinarian in 1984 at the University of Pretoria’s Onderstepoort Faculty of Veterinary Science. After completing his military service as a veterinarian in the Musina area, he started working as a State Veterinarian at the National office in Pretoria in 1986. In 1988 he was appointed as the State veterinarian for the Ermelo area.
He left the government service in 1989 to open a private practice in Ermelo, but returned to the government service in 1993 as a State Veterinarian in the National office in Pretoria. He was appointed as Deputy Director Epidemiology in 1996 to establish an Epidemiology Unit. As Deputy Director Epidemiology, Dr Ungerer was responsible for animal disease reporting, animal disease surveys, laboratory authorisations and cooperation with other government departments.
He was a member of the SADC Epidemiology and Informatics sub-committee, the Inter-Governmental Technical Committee for Agriculture’s Veterinary Working Group (ITCA-VWG) and the chair of the ITCA-VWG’s Veterinary Epidemiology Working Group. Dr Ungerer was a founding member of the Southern African Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine (SASVEPM). He was also involved in the teaching of veterinarians and acted as external examiner on numerous occasions.
Dr Ungerer married Marié in 1986, whom he loved dearly until the day of his death. He leaves behind his wife Marié, daughter Mari and two sons, Corneel and Derik. Willie was a very active member of his church and was the pillar of his family.
Dr Ungerer’s mentorship, leadership and friendship will be missed by all who knew him, especially his colleagues at the Directorate Animal Health. His leadership was characterised by understanding and empathy and his people skills were second to none. He encouraged his employees to reach their full potential and gave them the opportunity to function independently.
His death leaves a big gap in South Africa’s Veterinary Services.
With thanks to the Directorate for Animal Health of the South African
Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries.